God of the Roman state
|Member of the Archaic Triad|
|Other names||Curinus, Corinus, Querinus, Queirinus|
|Major cult center||Quirinal Hill|
|Symbols||beard, religious and military clothing|
The name of god Quirinus is recorded across Roman sources as Curinus, Corinus, Querinus, Queirinus and QVIRINO, also as fragmented IOVI. CYRIN[O]. The name is also attested as a surname to Hercules as Hercules Quirinus.
The name Quirīnus probably stems from Latin quirīs, the name of Roman citizens in their peacetime function. Since both quirīs and Quirīnus are connected with Sabellic immigrants into Rome in ancient legends, it may be a loanword. The meaning "wielder of the spear" (Sabine quiris, 'spear', cf. Janus Quirinus), or a derivation from the Sabine town of Cures, have been proposed by Ovid in his Fasti 2.477-480.[better source needed]
Some scholars have interpreted the name as a contraction of *Co-Virīnus (originally the protector of the community, cf. cūria < *co-viria), descending from an earlier *Co-Wironos, composed of the Proto-Indo-European language root *wihₓrós ("man"). De Vaan (2008) argues that this etymology "is not credible phonetically and not very compelling semantically."
Quirinus most likely was originally a Sabine war god. The Sabines had a settlement near the eventual site of Rome, and erected an altar to Quirinus on the Collis Quirinalis Quirinal Hill, one of the Seven hills of Rome. When the Romans settled in the area, the cult of Quirinus became part of their early belief system. This occurred before the later influences from classical Greek culture.
In Plutarch's Life of Romulus, he writes that shortly after Rome's founder had disappeared under what some considered suspicious circumstances, a Roman noble named Proculus Julius reported that Romulus had come to him while he was travelling. He claimed that the king had instructed him to tell his countrymen that he, Romulus was Quirinus.
Historian Angelo Brelich has argued that Quirinus and Romulus were originally the same divine entity which was split into a founder hero and a god when Roman religion became demythicised. To support this, he points to the association of both Romulus and Quirinus with the grain spelt, through the Fornacalia or Stultorum Feriae, according to Ovid's Fasti.
The last day of the festival is called the Quirinalia and corresponds with the traditional day of Romulus' death. On that day, the Romans would toast spelt as an offering to the goddess Fornax. In one version of the legend of Romulus' death cited by Plutarch, he was killed and cut into pieces by the nobles and each of them took a part of his body home and buried it on their land.
Brelich claims that this pattern – a festival involving a staple crop, a god, and a tale of a slain founding hero whose body parts are buried in the soil – is a recognized mytheme that arises when such a split takes place in a culture's mythology (see Dema deity archetype). The possible presence of the Flamen Quirinalis at the festival of Acca Larentia would corroborate this thesis, given the fact that Romulus is a stepson of hers, and one of the original twelve arval brethren (Fratres Arvales).
The association of Quirinus and Romulus is further supported by a connection with Vofionos, the third god in the triad of the Grabovian gods of Iguvium. Vofionos would be the equivalent of Liber or Teutates, in Latium and among the Celts respectively.
Over time, however, Quirinus became less significant, and he was absent from the later, more widely known triad (he and Mars had been replaced by Juno and Minerva). Varro mentions the Capitolium Vetus, an earlier cult site on the Quirinal, devoted to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva,[a] among whom Martial makes a distinction between the "old Jupiter" and the "new".
Eventually, Romans began to favor personal and mystical cults over the official state belief system. These included those of Bacchus, Cybele, and Isis, leaving only Quirinus' flamen to worship him.
Even centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Quirinal hill in Rome, originally named from the deified Romulus, was still associated with power – it was chosen as the seat of the royal house after the taking of Rome by the Savoia and later it became the residence of the Presidents of the Italian Republic.
In the novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the character of Professor Quirrell is given the forename Quirinus by the author J. K. Rowling, although the name does not appear in the text. This may be an allusion to Quirinus' association with Janus, as Quirrell is also "two-faced," having the face of the villain Lord Voldemort magically attached to the back of his head.
Quirinalis, socio imperii Romani Curibus ascito Quirino
Martial remarks on a position on the Esquiline Hill from which one might see hinc novum Iovem, inde veterem, "here the new Jupiter, there the old."